LSTM Professor Janet Hemingway in Nature's News & Views: 'Battling disease by giving mosquitoes an antimalarial drug'

News article 28 Feb 2019

LSTM’s Professor Janet Hemingway has provided a detailed “News & Views” article for the Journal Nature, looking at some of the combined developmental, regulatory and other processes that need to be addresses to enable novel vector control strategies to be effective in preventing any further rise in malaria transmission.

Professor Hemingway said: “It is estimated that mosquito control using bednets impregnated with long-lasting insecticides called pyrethroids, and indoor residual spraying resulted in 1.3 billion fewer malaria cases and 6.8 million fewer deaths between 2000 and 2015. However, despite these intensive efforts, a 2018 Who report states that, between 2015 and 2017, global efforts to reduce the malaria burden have stalled.”

The article focusses on one of the papers featured in the current edition of the journal in which Paton et al. report a non-insecticidal intervention that stops mosquitoes from transmitting malaria, which might offer a way to reduce reliance on insecticides alone as a means of malaria prevention. The group, from Harvard University, after exposing mosquitoes to surfaces treated with antimalarial drugs, proposes a new net combining insecticide with antimalarial drugs to targeting the malaria parasite itself, preventing insecticide-resistant mosquitoes from transmitting the disease.

Drawing parallels with the PBO net, which contains pyrethroid and piperonyl butoxide, which enhances pyrethroid’s effectiveness and is substantially more effective than pyrethroid only nets, Professor Hemingway states that Paton and colleagues’ approach fits well with the WHO global plan for managing insecticide resistance. However, there are substantial hurdles to overcome before new products are recommended and universally accepted by funders, countries and communities for interventions. Completing the steps for WHO prequalification for recommendation, and to go through countries product-recommendation systems is a difficult and lengthy process. “For example the first PBO nets were a market ready product with a WHO interim recommendation for 10 years before the first WHO guidance was issued on where and when they should be used,” Continued Professor Hemingway: “Clearly there is a need for substantial effort and funding to ensure a rapid evaluation of novel control strategies such as this one, so that they can play a role in reversing the current trend of rising malaria transmission.”